...and sampling for play
I would say that the majority of my professional hand-embroidery colleagues feel about as guilty as I do when I spend time ‘playing’ with either drawing materials or needle and thread. I always have a lot of work in the pipeline, and creating new class and/or kit designs is a slow, laborious process, so taking time ‘off’ to do anything purely creative (and not directly linked to generating income) feels somehow wrong.
The only way to get good at something is to practice; the only way to create something new is to play.
Really I should call it ‘professional development’ or ‘self managed independent learning’, but the word ‘play’ always jumps in first, and guilt comes rushing in right behind! Back in January I decided to make ‘play’ an official part of the schedule, and blocked out one day a month - it seems like nothing, but already I’m having trouble sticking to it!
To make sure it happens, I need to ‘have a plan’ - something (or several things) to try out, plus a little bundle of supplies all ready to go. Of course ALL of it eventually ends up being included in (or thrown out of) my ‘stash’ of ideas for eventual designs and classes - I just can’t help myself, but when I’m ‘playing’ I’m not thinking of anything in particular and that’s when the magic happens. I’ve started keeping a bit of paper next to my computer screen to jot down ideas to try, which usually occur to me when I’m teaching an online class! I’m always inspired by my students, and often in response to a question, I’ll suggest something by starting with ‘you could try…’ - and in my head I’m thinking ‘hey, I should try!’ Like anything creative, a blank bit of fabric, piece of paper or canvas is always daunting, so having a ‘plan’ or goal for the session can be helpful. Sometimes the plan is to just play with a new kind of thread to see what it can do, and that’s fine. So what am I going to be playing with this month? Well, I’ve got a few new types of threads (for me) from the lovely Jenny Adin-Christie, including silk wrapped gimp, chenille, fettuccini ribbon, metallic mesh ribbon and silk wrapped plate. I’m SO looking forward to my professional development day!
In my workbox...
I first heard about Freezer Paper when talking to some quilting friends in Canada and The States, and how it’s used for certain appliqué techniques. I use it for quite a different job because it’s great at turning regular fabric into a printable surface you can feed through a standard inkjet printer - amazing! When you iron the waxy side of the Freezer Paper to the back of your fabric, it provides enough support to the fabric to travel through the rollers of a printer without causing a jam. Because the wax isn’t very sticky, you can peel the fabric off the paper very easily and then - hurrah! - use the paper again for another piece of fabric! This is how I make all the pages in my KJS needlebooks. I also use it to print fine lines onto sheer fabrics for certain Stumpwork techniques, and get it from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00DS4Q2C0/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_image?ie=UTF8&psc=1